A School Expert’s Review of Vermont Academy

Vermont Academy, Saxtons River, Vermont

Vermont Academy’s primary goals are to shape character and values in its students.

A traditional boarding school, VA encourages students to be active and responsible participants in their own learning. VA teaches students to focus on his/her learning development, and well being.

Tour guide quote of the visit: “VA is preparing me for the world by teaching me about leadership, responsibility, and respect.”

I found VA students happy, healthy, and definitely engaged in their community!

VA’s “MAPS” (My Action Plan For Success) is a new school-wide program that has grown out of their highly successful learning skills program. VA is expanding this mastery of learning styles to benefit the entire student body. MAPS is a working document developed by each student through feedback and support from his/her advisor, teachers, coaches, and parents. MAPS requires each student to consider several areas of their life/work through self-assessments of strengths and weaknesses, learning preferences, with the end result being goals and and outline of how to achieve them.

VA teachers inspire students to become, innovative learners, effective communicators, lovers of nature, global citizens, spirited athletes and passionate artists.

My Tour Guide told me “VA is preparing me for the world by teaching me about leadership, responsibility, and respect.”

  • MAPS needs every student to contemplate many areas of their life/work through self-assessments of strengths and weaknesses, learning preferences, with the tip result being goals and and description of a way to bring home the bacon them…

  • Lauren Steiner

    Why are you simply repeating the PR crap the school hands out? My son just graduated after three years at VA. While I found many of the teachers smart, caring and engaging, the Learning Strategies Program was a joke. My son has ADHD, so we only looked at boarding schools with such programs. VA’s program costs an extra $2500 per trimester. I chose VA because of the prior head of the program, Matt Dall, who came from Landmark College. But after the first year, he decamped to the Putney School. The new head, Susan Schmidtt, is severly lacking as is the program.

    I was told my son would learn the Cornell note taking method. Didn’t happen. I was told they would employ ADHD coaching. They don’t know the first thing about it. In fact my son’s adviser, a very nice young man, was resistant to even watch an on line video lecture by the leading authority on ADHD, Dr. Russell Barkley. Barkley says the major cause of Executive Function Disorder, which he thinks ADHD should really be called, is lack of working memory, the ability to keep the future in mind. When you recognize that this is a brain based disorder, you employ a completely different way of dealing with it. And Dr. Craig Surman, another expert, gives you those tips, which includes making use of a concept called “the peripheral brain.” Instead, this adviser preferred to believe my son’s main problem was lack of motivation and self-esteem, and he proceeded to try to buck my son up rather than give him the tools he needed to organize and plan his work.

    The MAPs plan was also a joke, a simplistic document that is never followed up on. My son’s individualized learning plan in 5th grade in public school was a more sophisticated document. As far as individualizing at VA, they are resistant to letting you deviate from the existing schedule. My son takes medication to be able to focus in school. It wears off at 6 pm. VA’s mandatory study hall is from 8-10 pm. If my son takes even a short acting pill at dinner time, he cannot fall asleep at night. So rather than work homework into his daytime schedule, they required that he attend the nightime study hall, which proved to be a waste of time.

    Not only are they not amenable to working with the student and the family to come up with a meaningful individual education plan, their method of achieving desired behavior is punitive and threat based. If you have enough infractions, they put you on a contract. The ultimate threat is to be kicked out of school. And many kids are kicked out every year.

    In conclusion, while VA is not a terrible school, it is not the idyllic place described in this brief blurb. And I feel sorry for anyone who pays Marylou Marcus the big bucks for her recommendations. Clearly she is content to base her assessment on the BS they give you on a school tour rather than talk to parents.

Marylou Marcus

Marylou Marcus draws on 25+ years as an independent school educator & Director of Admission & Financial Aid when working with a family to find the best private school fit for their child. Contact Marylou for help in your search for the right prep school or visit www.AQeducationalconsulting.com to learn more about her work with families.

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